the land of the never ending sandstone…
We’ve been ‘Down Under’ 8 years ago and well remembered the quality of the sandstone and the impressive flora and fauna. It was always a dream of mine to go back there, especially to the Grampians, a National park in northern Victoria. Well, this year tickets were booked and the trip was planned.
On our first day, where we still completely jet lagged barely made our way to the crags, we were blown away by the quality of the rock! I remembered it being very good, but after seeing many different areas around the world in the meantime we realized how amazing it is! Especially considering the proximity of two ‘world-wonders’ of climbing, the Hollow Mountain Cave and the Taipan Wall are, as they are forming a giant ‘amphitheater’. Hiking around on various rest days through the lesser or undeveloped areas of the Grampians (all of the classic areas are concentrated on the very northern tip of the park), we sometimes felt like walking through a museum full of exceptional and unbelievable rock-formations: There is yellow or white smooth rock, very sticky ‘velcro-like’ red rock , ‘spiderweb’-quartz-swiped rock, bright orange overhangs, slopey-HP40-reminiscient boulders, marbled walls, grey shields, ….everything you could dream of and of course studded with amazing crimps, pinches and slopers. The only thing we didn’t find was choss!
This excess supply of amazing rock led to the ‘I-wanna-climb-everything-syndrome’ with me… I had a hard time to decide what to try, especially as climbing days where limited by the wet Australian winter. The first 2 weeks were perfect, with only one rainy day per week. After that this ratio switched to the reverse, with only one dry day a week.
I spent some time working a really cool hard route, but could just not do the first crux move. We even never made the drive to Arapiles, although now back home I could kick myself for not even trying the classic routes there…Some of my personal highlights were the first ascent of ‘In the cloud’ (see http://www.verticallifemag.com.au/2013/10/dorothea-karalus-puts-up-a-v12-in-the-grampians) and my send of ‘Serpentine’, the probably most famous route on the Taipan Wall. The crux pitch is the second pitch and starts with a quite exposed roof section. The moves are long and I maybe would have complained about them being reachy, if I wouldn’t have had a poster of Lynn Hill hanging on my wall for years. It shows her on that section of Serpentine, wildly cutting her feet. So there was no room to complain, instead just did the same. Maybe “W.W.L.H.D. – What would Lynn Hill do” should be my new mantra? The rest of the route offers 40m of very varied climbing, from delicate stemming, powerful fridge-slapping, crimpy cruxes to (luckily) good rests. While I was trying to recover at the rests, the sun was going down and the birds went crazy, singing and floating all around me. Topping out Tapain wall was such an awesome feeling!
Other highlights were a send of the gaston testpiece ‘Dead can’t dance’ and ‘Forced Entry’, see below!